Considering Immigration Disrupts Children's Essentialist Beliefs about National Identity
Children think of national identity as a core part of identity: previous research finds that children are more likely to expect people from the same country to share preferences than people of the same gender (Hussak & Cimpian, 2019). However, do children truly believe that where someone is born defines them in important (and unchanging) ways? In the present set of studies, we extend the study by Hussak and Cimpian (2019) by including targets who are immigrants. In Study 1, we find that children believe that national identity is less stable when considering immigrants compared to nonimmigrants and are willing to state that an individual could maintain two national identities. In Study 2, we replicate past work on an inductive potential task that contrasts national identity with gender when reasoning about nonimmigrants: children were more likely to generalize preferences based on shared national identity than shared gender. When considering immigrants, however, children’s responses were more mixed. Children relied on gender when the gender-match also lived in the same country that the immigrant target moved to, but were at chance when having to choose between a gender-match who lived in the immigrant’s heritage country compared to a non-gender match living in the host country. Thus, rather than essentializing national identity , children may care more about where one lives than where they were born when generalizing preferences. These findings suggest that children expect immigrants to assimilate to and adopt the preferences of their new culture.
Keywords: social essentialism, national identity, immigration, children